Hindenburg disaster marks the end of passenger airship travel era 73 years ago today

On May 6, 1937 the German airship Hindenburg was completing another transatlantic crossing and was coming in to dock at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. Although the actual cause of the ignition might never be truly known, that an ignition occurred onboard is certainly not in doubt. With over 7 million cubic feet of hydrogen contained within her 803-foot length, Hindenburg became an inferno in seconds and burned completely to her skeleton in less than a minute. Thirteen of her passengers and 22 of her crew died that day as did 1 member of the ground crew. With them, the era of passenger airship travel perished as well.

The Hindenburg was not the only airship that saw passenger service and the United States Navy deployed airships in their operations in the 1920’s and early 1930’s. Two of the largest were the USS Akron and the USS Macon, both effectively airborne aircraft carriers capable of launching and recovering fighter/scout aircraft while in flight. It’s a fascinating era in aviation history brought to a rather tragic close by the Hindenburg disaster.

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2 comments

  1. At the time it was taking as long as a week to 10 days to get from Europe to America by ocean liner. The Hindenburg could do it in 2 days and without the issue of seasickness. She was was the Concorde of her day.

    Unfortunately, they had to transition to using hydrogen for a lift gas and… well, the rest is history.

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